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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted this morning that he has "the absolute right to PARDON" himself, but added "why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?" He went even farther than the words of his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the weekend, who argued that Trump "probably does" have a self-pardon power.

The bottom line: Nobody really knows for sure whether the president has the power to pardon himself. It's never been attempted, so its constitutionality has not been tested in court — but people have plenty of opinions on the issue.

The constitutional question
  • The Constitution says the president "shall have the Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."
  • The clear exceptions: The president's pardon power is limited to only federal crimes because of the specificity of "offenses against the United States." And most legal experts say a pardon can not be used on any "future" crimes, according to Politifact.
  • But, but, but: The Constitution only explicitly prevents the president from pardoning himself in cases of impeachment, so any other instances are an open question.
The "yes" crowd
  • John Yoo, a law professor at Berkeley and former legal adviser in the George W. Bush administration, wrote in The New York Times that "President Trump can clearly pardon anyone — even himself — subject to the Mueller investigation."
  • David Rivkin Jr. and Lee Casey, former staffers in the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that Trump could "end this madness by immediately issuing a blanket presidential pardon to anyone involved in supposed collusion with Russia or Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign." They specified that any theoretical blanket pardon would include Trump himself, provided the House did not choose to impeach him.
  • P.S. Ruckman, a legal professor at Rock Valley College, kept it simple, telling Bloomberg that Trump "could write his pardon down on a napkin and sign it — that would be a pardon."
The "no" crowd
  • Then-Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lawton wrote during the Watergate scandal: "Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself." This is one of the most heavily-cited opinions against a presidential self-pardon, highlighted again this morning by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer for W. Bush, and Norman Eisen, former chief White House ethics lawyer for Obama, wrote a piece for the Washington Post, titled simply: "No, Trump can’t pardon himself. The Constitution tells us so."
  • Author and Michigan State law professor Brian Kalt told CNN that that the chances of a president being able to pardon himself would be less than 50%, but not 0%. He said he believes that "any court faced with the issue should rule against self-pardons' validity. But "should" and "would" are two different things."

Be smart: The even bigger question is whether Republicans would move to impeach Trump should he ever decide to issue a self-pardon. As Axios' Jim VandeHei wrote about the president's sway on his own party: "If you think he won't try something unprecedented — and maybe get away with it, at least with Republicans — you aren’t paying attention."

Go deeper: It's not normal: Trump’s obstruction and pardon moves.

Go deeper

The modern way to hire a big-city police chief

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Republicans are least likely to want the coronavirus vaccine

Reproduced from Civiqs; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans of all ages, education levels, genders, races and political parties say they're more likely than not to get the coronavirus vaccine — except Republicans.

Why it matters: Vaccine hesitancy is higher among white Republicans than any other demographic group, and it hasn't been improving much as the vaccination effort continues, according to Civiqs polling.